Life imitates art, and one form of art feeds another. It makes sense that one creative individual can be inspired or influenced by another. One may argue that this is stealing; another can argue that it is seeding the pot of creative life. For years, music videos have told stories, caused controversies and borrowed inspiration from prior cultural iconography. Here is a list of music videos directly inspired by famous visual artists:

1) Kanye West – “Famous”
Inspired by: Vincent Desiderio’s painting “Sleep”

This recent Kanye West video recreates Vincent Desiderio’s “Sleep” painting, which depicts a line of nude individuals asleep in a messy bed. West replaces each figure with that of a celebrity. Typical of a West project, it was called both a genius and disturbing, but Desiderio himself said he was “floored and honored.”

2) Drake – “Hotline Bling”
Inspired by: Light installations of James Turrell


The set for this Drake video appears to be taken straight from a James Turrell installation. The artist, who explores light and space in his work, incorporates architectural components and colorful LEDs, much like the rooms in which Drake shows off his corny-sexy dance moves. Drake has openly named Turrell as an artistic influence. The artist has denied any involvement with the video.

3) Hold Your Horses! – “70 Million”
Inspired by: art history in general


This trip down art history lane features the band superimposed into famous works of art. The video recreates more than two-dozen works, from Munch’s “The Scream” to Klimt’s “The Kiss. ” Odes to Picasso, da Vinci, Warhol, Kahlo and more are referenced in the 3:18 minute video.

4) Jay Z – “Picasso Baby”
Inspired by: Marina Abramovic’s “The Artist is Present” art performance

Jay Z_Video      Jay Z_Abramovic

In 2010, performance artist Marina Abramovic performed “The Artist is Present,” an installation during which visitors were invited to share a moment of silence sitting across from the artist, who sat immobile for 736.5 hours. Perhaps the most controversial video on this list, Jay Z’s “Picasso Baby” art film is a direct and forthright adaptation of Abramovic’s work, and even features her. The artist later called the video a “one-way transaction,” saying that the musician “used” her when he didn’t hold up his end of their agreement – to make a donation to her Institute in exchange for her involvement in his project. She later issued an apology after learning that the donation had in fact been made.